Almost all travelers have a Nightmare Luggage story. You spent a lot of money on a fancy brand-name bag that broke on the first leg of the trip. Or you skimped on the spending and got exactly what you paid for. Or the bag that you thought would be comfortable and versatile turned out to be neither as you dragged it over the cobblestones of Florence or humped it on aching shoulders through the crowded, narrow streets of Kathmandu.
Choosing the wrong luggage can waste precious travel time and energy and can cause a lot of aches and pains. Choosing the right luggage will free you up to enjoy your trip without any unnecessary aggravation. To help you pick the best possible bag for your next adventure — here are five simple questions you can ask yourself to help you decide which type of bag is best for you.
What are the baggage restrictions and limits of all the airlines I will be traveling with? Some countries have more restrictive guidelines that are more stringently enforced. Smaller airlines in Europe, for example, require smaller and lighter bags than in the US. Make sure you know what the requirements will be so you don’t get stuck having to pay hefty fines or finding new luggage at the last minute. I am always happy to answer your questions regarding airline baggage restrictions and will advise you on the requirements of all the airlines you will be flying with.
Am I an over-packer or a shopper? If you know that you tend to bring more than you need and buy when you get there, opt for an expandable bag as your carry-on, and slip in an empty, durable nylon bag to bring back new things with you. (Note: be prepared to pay any additional fees that might apply for additional bags, or if your bag becomes too large/heavy as a result of over-packing!)
How much attention do I want my luggage to get? Yes, sometimes it’s tempting to get the stand-out, fashion-forward luggage set in fuchsia — but if you’re heading to a destination that’s known for theft, sometimes the better option is to pick a suitcase that blends in with the crowd. There are always things you can do to help with identification — a colorful ribbon, a sticker, a unique tag — but if you don’t want your luggage to be a target for opportunistic thieves, just opt to keep it simple.
How much transferring will I be doing on this trip? Are you heading to one main location that will be your “home base” of travel operations? Or will you be constantly on the move from city to city, hopping trains, getting taxis, taking buses? Will someone be available to help you lift your bags if you need assistance (partner, children, tour assistant), or will you be the one fully responsible for handling your luggage at all times? The more you’ll be moving and hefting, the more you should aim for simple, lightweight, durable, and versatile. Pack only the essentials, and look for bags that offer more than one transport method — for example, a carry-on with hidden pull-out straps and can be transformed into a comfy backpack for hands-free movement.
And in that vein of questioning: Does my luggage match the type and terrain of the trip I’m taking? Wheeled suitcases are great — if you have lots of flat floors and smooth sidewalks along which to roll them. But after two days of lugging a heavy suitcase through bumpy streets, broken sidewalks, dirt paths, or up endless flights of stairs in old, gorgeous elevator-less buildings, you’ll be praying to the luggage gods for a simple backpack with padded shoulder straps.
The last thing you want to be focused on while you’re on the trip of a lifetime is some annoying, avoidable luggage irritation. With a little investigating and preparation before you pack up and head out, you can make sure your luggage fits seamlessly into your travel plans.
Ready to plan your dream vacation? Want an experienced Travel Advisor to advise you about the best luggage for your upcoming trip? I’ve got the knowledge and passion for great travel to help make this a year to remember. You can set up a consultation with me now by clicking here.
In the air, under the sea, on the ice, in a tree: a look at some incredible hotels
Travel is meant to transport you — to other places, obviously, but also sometimes to other times, other worlds, other possibilities. These four utterly unique hotels are full of the magic, mystery, and wonder that travel embodies. These are places you might never want to leave!
The Taj Palace Resort, Lake Pichola, Rajasthan, India is for the person who’s ever wondered what it was like to see the world in the Golden Age of travel. This is the place (or palace) to get a glimpse of what it feels like to be royalty. Built in the middle of a lake, this huge marble resort features opulent 1930s rooms with intricately carved archways and rooms draped in sumptuous fabrics. You can dine al fresco with a view of the surrounding mountains and the warm lights of the shoreline, and then hop on a traditional sunset boat ride with your own personal oarsman.
If you’re a serious nature lover who also appreciates the finer things, then staying at one of the luxurious lodges on the Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve will ignite your love of the natural world in a whole new way. Located in the mountainous jungles of Chile, not far from the Argentinian border, Huilo-Huilo features four main lodges on the property that are all intimately a part of the gorgeous natural surroundings — including one that’s built right into a mountain. Spacious rooms look out over lush green canopies, pristine rivers, and the bright, elaborate ecosystem of the Patagonia rainforest. Take advantage of spa facilities after a day of hiking and exploring, and enjoy 5-star meals that draw their inspiration from the surrounding jungle. Best of all, you get to be part of a sustainable tourist destination that’s committed to preservation and conservation of the world it inhabits.
The Ice Hotel® in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, is a gorgeous, temporary palace of ice, located north of the Arctic Circle. Each year, the hotel commissions artists to create original masterwork rooms using snow and ice. Giant sculptures and huge vaulted rooms of carved snow surround fur-covered beds. Each room serves as a canvas for designers from all over the world. Get married in a church made entirely of ice, or spend a night watching the breathtaking aurora borealis from your room. But don’t wait too long: each Spring, the Ice Hotel® disappears.
If cold weather isn’t your thing and you’re more into sandy beaches and mind-blowingly clear waters, then your dream resort might just be Cocoa Island by COMO in the Maldives. This is a private island resort with 33 “overwater” suites. What that means is that you can literally walk out the door of your private villa and just slip into a warm turquoise lagoon for a swim. Each room has a personal terrace, with a view out onto the sea and of the sugar-white beaches nearby. Indulge in the holistic wellness treatments at the spa, take an incredible diving tour, and enjoy top-tier food prepared with a nod to the South Indian culinary influences.
What kind of places do you like to stay? If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind resort or hotel, I can help find a place that will totally transport you, for an experience you’ll remember forever! If you’re ready to dive in, you can get in touch with me by clicking here.
We all know how it is. Any mention of the state of airport travel today — especially the lines and the TSA — will inevitably elicit groans of frustration, eye rolls, and a raft of stories of security nightmares.
It’s true in many ways that traveling by plane in 2018 lacks much of the glamour and carefree effortless elegance of, say, 50 years ago. We live in a different world with much more complex problems that need to be addressed.
But since you have to go through the lines and security no matter what — how about making it as painless as possible? Here are some easy tips to help you breeze through your next security screening.
4. Get Zen – or whatever your version of that is. When you have everything organized, and you know you’re ready to go, and all there is left to do is wait in line, make the most of it. Focus on the excitement you feel about your trip. Talk to your kids. Take deep breaths. If you’re not self-conscious, do some pre-tiny-airline-seat stretches. Strike up a conversation if you feel like it. Listen to a podcast. Get your mind in a place that’s positive and productive and set the tone for your trip to focus on what’s working and what you’re thankful for.
And, we know it’s tough sometimes, but don’t forget the one travel essential you cannot live without: patience. Everyone is in the same boat; everyone wants to get through. A smile and a “thank-you” never hurt, either. I’ve known many people, including myself, who’ve gotten unexpected happy surprises (baggage fees waived, bump up) just for being polite when everyone else was falling apart. See where it gets you!
Are you looking for help planning your next trip? Not only can I help you with security line advice – I can help you with everything that leads up to it and everything after! Contact me today and we can get started planning your best trip yet – to reach me, just click here.
It seems like every few months, a new travel app comes out, or some new website pops up promising the best deals ever.
And while certainly technology can make many things about travel more organized, the secret to the best trip of your life has been around much longer than aggregate travel sites. Because the secret to an awesome trip isn’t an app — it’s a human being.
Your Travel Agent has got the experience, the know-how, and the connections to help you design and plan a vacation that will create the best memories of your life. Here’s just a few of the things that make your certified Travel Agent the key to the perfect trip.
Your agent can save you time — as in, hours and hours of research, phone calls, emails, and online searching. She’s the one who knows the best spots to catch that breathtaking sunset on the beach. He’s got the inside scoop on which resorts give the best bulk discounts. She’s tracked the best time to look for plane or train or ferry tickets to your dream destination. She’s the one who knows when the crush of tourists will let up enough to allow you the most authentic experience possible. He’s got the answers to all those nitpicky questions about openings and closures, vaccination requirements and necessary documents, local customs and dress codes.
Your agent has access to deals and bookings that are not available to the general public, and sometimes can even snag free upgrades for you. People often assume that using a Travel Agent is more expensive than planning a trip on your own, and they are skeptical that hiring an agent can actually save them money. But this is the key: your agent has connections that you don’t. They have the inside track. The deals you spot on a website might be great — but they are also hit-and-miss, and they may or may not be in the sweet spot of what you’re looking for. So you might get a great deal on a hotel, but it might also be miles away from where you most wanted to stay. Your agent knows exactly where to go to find the deals — and has access and the ability to find bargains that line up with your ideal vacation.
If you’re planning a group trip, your agent is indispensable. Who else can find a way to accommodate health concerns, a variety of dietary preferences, and the needs of children, adults, and seniors on one amazing trip? Who else can make sure that the aunts who are best friends get adjoining rooms? Who else can ensure that all 16 of you get an unforgettable experience? All the details that give most of us headaches — these are the very things that a good agent thrives on taking care of and providing.
Many agents are on call 24/7 while you are traveling. There really is no price you can put on this kind of assurance and help. If you find yourself in Munich and you left your medications on the train, your agent can help you get set up again. If your passport gets stolen, your agent can help you get a replacement. If an emergency comes up and you need to re-route your trip, your agent is the one who can make those arrangements so you don’t have to stress about it.
For most agents out there, planning trips is so much more than just a job. They love what they do. They’re genuinely passionate about great travel. They love people, and they love creating the vacations that live on and on in fond memories and family conversations. I would love to help you plan the trip of a lifetime, click here to head over to my website and send me an email or give me a call and let’s get started!
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P.S. Do you have a friend or family member who loves to travel? Please forward them this email and let them know how a Travel Agent can help them have the best trip of their life.
You’d think after millennia of people traveling, not to mention how quickly the world has shrunk with access to the Internet, that we would have seen it all.
But here are four beautiful and intriguing highlights from places that might not be as familiar. If you’d like a full list from National Geographic of the best trips for 2018 – some familiar, some not – check it out here.
If you’re craving a break from busy-ness and noise, Haida Gwaii will give you the silence you’re longing for. A 180-mile-long archipelago off the coast of British Columbia is the ultimate getaway for nature lovers. May-September is the summer season, with more tourist services available, and a greater chance of seeing spectacular wildlife like the Orca migration. But if you’re into surfing, try October-May for the best waves.
To get a feel for what life was like for the Vikings, hop a ferry from Denmark or Iceland and check out the Faroe Islands. Located about 400 miles off the coast of Northern Europe and accessible by flights and ferries year-round, the Faroe Islands are ringed with dramatic green cliffs that plunge into the ocean, sparkling bays, and breathtaking Nordic scenery. In the city of Gjógv, stay in an authentic sod-roofed hotel and take hikes up into the mountains with a spectacular view of the gorge below. Go in July or August for mild temps and long days.
A hidden travel gem lies in the Western Baltics, which is already a somewhat-unknown region that is brimming with breathtaking scenery and a proud cultural heritage. The Via Dinarica is a year-round adventurer’s wonderland. Love gorgeous summer hikes and biking tours? May-September, this trail stretches through 1,200 miles of varied terrain and eight different countries. If you’re into skiing and snowshoeing, hit the Via Dinarica from January to mid-March for a pristine wonderland. Stay in remote mountain shelters, or immerse yourself in centuries-old tradition by staying with local host families.
We see a lot of Japan’s bustling cities, its towering skyscrapers, its industry, its bright lights. But if you’re interested in reclining into the contemplative heart of Japan, seek out Koyasan, a pristine monastic complex two hours south of Osaka by train and the seat of Japanese Shingon Buddhism. Many temples here offer guest rooms, and you can get a feel for what monastic life is like in the lush, misty mountain interior. Savor the simple flavors of clean Buddhist eating, take in morning rituals, or hike by lantern and moonlight along winding green mountain paths. After the intense and amazing sensory experiences that the large urban areas of Japan provide, Koyasan really is the perfect retreat into silence, simplicity, and mystery.
One of the many reasons I love what I do as a travel agent is that there is just so much to see, to take in, and to learn. We all have the amazing opportunity to launch out into new places, to find some new adventure that will change us forever — and I love getting to be a part of that process.
If you’re feeling that pull to places that are new to you, contact me today and let’s start planning your next adventure!
Expedition cruising is a new type of holiday. It’s growing in popularity, but what is it?
Expedition cruising is an adventure. It’s not cabaret and cocktails by the pool. It’s a voyage of explorational that enables you to experience some of the world’s remote locations. Vessels take less than 100 passengers. The experience is intimate and real. It’s boots and wet weather gear, not glitz and sparkle. Itineraries are active, inclusive, and educational. Expect to get up close and personal with nature.
Expedition cruising is not for everyone. Is it for you?
Where can I go?
There are some amazing destinations to choose from. Here are three ideas to get your juices flowing.
Alaska is home to humpback whales, harbor seals, bears, bald eagles, sea otters, puffins, sea lions, orcas, and salmon.
Alaska is so vast and magnificent that the scenery will make you feel small as you view it from the bow of your boat. The glaciers you’ll cruise past are ethereal, and the mountains will dwarf your vessel as it passes through narrow channels in a never-ending scrolling vista of natural beauty.
The captain and crew are always on the lookout for wildlife, and you’re invited to keep a keen eye out for the tell-tale signs of whales.
Hikes into the forest are tailored to suit fitness levels and are accompanied by knowledgeable guides who aim to deepen your understanding of this natural habitat.
You’ll use the zodiac to explore and to access places the main vessel can’t. Kayak trips treat you to a waterline experience that’s hard to beat. Peacefully paddle past nesting birds and enjoy the thrill of eyeballing sea lions and harbor seals.
Giant tortoise, sea turtles, sea lions, a raft of migratory and endemic birds, iguanas, and penguins can be seen on The Galapagos.
The Galapagos is the location famed for Charles Darwin’s insight that sparked his theory of evolution. Wildlife evolved here in isolation. Today, it remains the only place in the world to see some species. Darwin’s famed finches’ number among these endemic species you’ll see.
Nearly all of the area is protected, which has preserved this unique environment. The wildlife has no fear of humans, so your wildlife encounters are substantially different from any other location, anywhere in the world.
Your vessel is your base that moves between islands to allow you to hike, snorkel, kayak, and paddleboard at a variety of different locations. If you’re a scuba diver, look for itineraries that have the option for a dive; you won’t regret it.
Penguins. Penguins. Penguins. The variety of species and scale of their colonies in the region is hard to overstate. They are truly fascinating, and their behavior is entertaining beyond measure.
Leopard seals take on the role of a villain against the penguin’s capering. They’re the apex predator to be found lounging on ice floes. Cruising past them on a zodiac is thrilling. Crabeater and fur seals grace the water too.
Whales are a common sight, and the captain and crew are always on the lookout for fin, humpback, minke, sperm, and killer whales.
The Antarctic is remote and wild, and these expeditions are designed to immerse you in their beauty. Zodiac trips take you alongside glaciers. Kayak tours allow you to experience the deepest silence, and you can wander amongst penguins with your camera. Some trips allow you to explore by ski or snowshoe too.
Am I Fit Enough For An Expedition Cruise?
You don’t have to be a marathon runner or even a runner at all, but to get the most out of this type of holiday, it does help if you are relatively active.
You will need to be comfortable with getting in and out of a Zodiac, and understand that shore landings often involve wading through knee-deep water and squelching through mud. You might find this more fun than you expect.
Many guests on these trips will be taking part in activities new to them, and you will be under the instruction of an experienced leader. If you’re open to new experiences and have a positive attitude, it will go along way towards your enjoyment. Your sense of achievement will keep you smiling long after the holiday has passed.
Where a strenuous hike is offered, there’s usually a less challenging activity as an option too, and know that nothing is compulsory.
All that said, if you are unsure, speak to the company you’re considering traveling with. They have the experience to be able to guide you. If you do have medical conditions that you’re worried will affect your enjoyment or even restrict you, speak to your physician. Someone familiar with your medical history is much better qualified to determine what’s suitable.
If you’re reading this with the knowing smile of someone who’s already experienced an expedition cruise, tell us what your favorite bit was. It might give someone else that last push towards an unforgettable experience.
Vacations, even simple weekend getaways, can be full of adventure — that’s part of the great appeal, after all — but if you value a delicious, high-quality meal along with your adventure, then check out these four apps for different travel needs that can direct you to the best places to savor a great meal.
Make the most of your trip and the food you enjoy while on your next adventure! Give one (or more!) of these apps a try and let me know what you think.
New York Times writer Susan Heller famously said, “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”
Even when we have great intentions, it’s easy to overload our suitcases. We wind up dragging a lot of stuff around. There’s more to keep track of; it winds up being a lot of physical and mental clutter. And, of course, we wind up paying a ton of extra fees for the additional weight and luggage.
So, rather than viewing efficient packing as a practice in minimalism, I like to think of it as a challenge that helps you make the most of every vacation: you have what you need, you’re freed up to not have to lug around a bunch of extra weight, and you can put that saved money towards a special souvenir, a nice dinner out, or another cool experience.
So what are the secrets that seasoned travelers use to guarantee expert packing? Here are the top 6:
If you’re ready to pack for an adventure, I’d love to talk to you about it. I know we can find a place that’s just right for you — and I’ll even give you insider tips packing suggestions for your specific destination! You can reach me today!
Sleeping well on a plane has developed into a certain kind of art — and into a healthy business — with savvy travelers constantly scoping out new ways to make long flights more conducive to actual rest. Here are a few that really seem to have some payoff.
Splurge on a better seat. Sure, not everyone can afford a premium seat in first or business class, where you can take advantage of fully- or almost-fully-reclining seats and loads of leg room. But for long-distance flights, it can still be worth it to spend the extra money on an exit-row seat, a bulkhead seat, or a window seat. Flying on off-peak days, like a Tuesday evening, will also increase the likelihood that the flight will be less crowded and quieter.
Do the best you can with flight times and direct flights. While crossing many time zones always poses its own sleep challenges, do your best to pick a flight time and schedule that will sync up most naturally with your sleeping and waking times. Leaving in the evening will work better than trying to get REM at three in the afternoon.
Know your cues. Which side of the bed do you sleep on at home? Book on that side of the plane. Do you usually have a cup of tea before bed? Bring a few packets of your favorite herbal. And grab your own small travel blanket and comfy slippers while you’re at it (the airline pillow or blanket can be used for extra cushioning or lumbar support if you like). Spritz your pillow with a mild lavender essential oil. The more familiar things you can do, the more your brain will recognize the cues that it’s time for rest.
Sweet darkness, sweet silence. On most trans-oceanic flights, you’ll see the blue glow of nearly every seatback screen flickering, no matter the time. We know that the type of light emitted by screens is proven to disrupt sleep. For any rest at all — let alone good rest — keep your screen off. Bring an eye mask or cap to block out as much light as possible. Use earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to create the quietest environment you can.
Buckle up over the blanket. When the plane hits turbulence, flight attendants are required to make sure people are safely buckled in. If they can’t see that your seat belt is fastened, they have to disturb you to check. Make it easy for them and for you — simply click the buckle over the blanket.
Rather than paying more for less in the airport, do some quick research before you leave to find the best travel pillow for you. There are dozens to choose from, and they range widely in price, portability, and visual quirkiness. Check out reviews like this one from the Travel + Leisure — and note how the reviewer coordinates the best pillows with each type of sleeper. Chances are, there’s a pillow out there that will support your head and neck and give you the rest you need.
What are your best tips for getting good sleep on an airplane? I’d love to hear them. And if you’re ready to plan your next (well-rested) journey, I’m here to help!
People are always talking about taking their “dream vacation” — but largely what people mean when they say this is that every detail of the trip was planned flawlessly, everything went according to plan, and the service and food were stellar.
But what if the key to having the best vacations of your life has as much to do with how you approach traveling as it does with where you go and the number of stars on your hotel?
Here are 5 Traveler’s Resolutions you can make right now to make this the best year of travel yet:
A common thread among these resolutions is the ability to let go of anxiety, relax and enjoy yourself. Hiring a Travel Professional is one of the best ways to avoid the most stressful parts of travel altogether. I can do all the planning, handle all the details, and you get to enjoy. I will also be on call for you while you are on your trip to handle any complications or emergencies that may come up. Let me take all the stress out of organizing and leave all the pleasure to you. Click the link below to contact me today!
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